It had to happen. Ever since we first started talking about The Great Escape, as it’s become known, our youngest has been unbelievably calm about it.
We’ve talked to her, asked repeatedly if she’s really happy with the idea, made sure she knows she can come to us with any questions…. and in that incredibly placid, take-it-all-in-my-stride way of hers, she’s said it’s fine and she’s looking forward to it.
She does have an amazing capacity to adapt and accept, I know that. But this move isn’t just across town – it’s a complete removal, geographically and culturally, from everything she’s ever known. That’s got to be a big deal in anyone’s book.
So when I got a text from Steve that read simply: “Tears about Turkey at home. We need to talk.” there was a bit of me that wasn’t surprised….and another bit of me that panicked wildly. What if she had objections or fears that were quite simply too much to overcome? What if we had to abandon the dream?
Turned out there were a few things on her mind after all. So we asked her to make a list of everything she was worried about and everything she was looking forward to – or, in other words, the pros and cons as she saw it.
Firstly, I was relieved to see there were a lot more reasons ‘for’ than ‘against’. Secondly, all her concerns were entirely natural – in fact, they were the same things that would be on our own list, if we wrote one. They included:
- I’m upset at the thought of losing touch with my friends.
- What if I don’t make any new ones?
- What if I really struggle with the language?
- I’m worried about leaving my brother behind without us.
I won’t copy out the rest, although there weren’t many more, and the whole episode actually turned out to be a good thing. It gave us an opportunity to sit down afresh and air any fears and reservations we had. It meant Em could see that we’re not expecting it to be perfect – we accept there will be stress and difficulties in our ‘new’ life, as there are anywhere. They will just be different – and yes, we’ll have to learn to cope with them.
It also gave us a chance to really, really impress upon her that she has to talk to us and not bottle things up because saying everything is “fine” is what she thinks we want to hear. She’s entitled to her opinion and she’s allowed to express it. Not saying it doesn’t make it go away and, once it’s out there, we can talk about how we’ll deal with it.
I guess subconsciously I was aware that she was fretting, because something inside me that links to her is more settled – it’s as though before there was something prodding me, asking if I really believed she was ok with everything, whereas now I’m confident she is – and, if she isn’t, she’ll tell me.
As a result, it’s all a lot more open. I’m not saying there won’t be more tears – from any of us – but at least we won’t be hiding them from each other.